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Quality of democracy deteriorated in 2012, IVO Barometer finds

The level of democracy in Slovakia dropped from an average of 2.6 points in 2011 to 2.8 points in 2012, according to a survey carried out by the Institute of Public Affairs (IVO) released on January 22, the TASR newswire reported.

The level of democracy in Slovakia dropped from an average of 2.6 points in 2011 to 2.8 points in 2012, according to a survey carried out by the Institute of Public Affairs (IVO) released on January 22, the TASR newswire reported.

The marks given in the IVO Barometer survey range between 1 and 5, with 1 representing the optimal state of democracy based on standards and comparative criteria in other European Union and Council of Europe countries.

The drop in Slovakia’s level of democracy was affected by the situation in the first quarter of 2012 when it hit 2.8 points. The evaluation did not improve during the rest of the year.

In terms of individual categories monitored in the survey, the most significant fall was posted in the sphere of ‘democratic institutions and the rule of law in the country’, where it fell by 0.25 points to 2.75. One of the reasons was, according to IVO, the decision of President Ivan Gašparovič not to appoint Jozef Čentéš to the post of general prosecutor. This, it said, was one of the most negative infringements within the system of constitutional institutions since 1998.

“We declare that the situation has taken on very unfavourable contours, demonstrated by the stance of one of the constitutional institutions – the president of the Slovak Republic – towards valid, legitimate decisions made by another top state institution – parliament,” said Grigorij Mesežnikov, the head of IVO, as quoted by TASR.

Mesežnikov stressed that his institute intends to examine the impeachment case brought against President Gašparovič sponsored by the opposition, and a number of attempts by opposition politicians to summon special sessions in the parliament that have been repeatedly rejected by the ruling Smer party thanks to its majority in the house.

IVO analysts praised the civic pressure that has apparently helped to halt a criminal prosecution against film-maker Zuzana Piussi for one of her documentaries on the situation in the Slovak judiciary. As concerns the involvement of Slovaks in society, the institute pointed to activities pursued by citizens during the teachers’ strikes in September and November 2012 and the contribution of many to the debate on the steps taken by the president, TASR wrote.

The institute evaluates the level of democracy in five walks of life: the rule of law, legislation, respect for human and minority rights, the independent public-service media, and foreign policy in terms of the European and trans-Atlantic integration.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports
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